The placebo effect is a powerful psychobiological phenomenon whereby a positive outcome follows the administration of an inert treatment thought to be effective. Growing evidence shows that the placebo effect extends beyond the healing context, affecting also motor performance. Here we explored the placebo effect on the control of goal-directed movement, a fundamental function in many daily activities. Twenty-four healthy volunteers performed upper-limb movements toward a target at different indexes of difficulty in two conditions: in the placebo condition, an electrical device (inert) was applied to the right forearm together with verbal information about its positive effects in improving movement precision; in the control condition, the same device was applied along with verbal information about its neutral effects on performance. Interestingly, we found shorter movement time in the placebo compared to the control condition. Moreover, subjective perception of fatigability was reduced in the placebo compared to the control condition. These findings indicate that the placebo effect can improve the execution of goal-directed movements, thus adding new evidence to the placebo effect in the motor domain. This study could inspire future applications to improve upper-limb movements or in clinical settings for patients with motor deficits.

The placebo effect shortens movement time in goal-directed movements

Fiorio, Mirta
;
Villa-Sanchez, Bernardo;Emadi Andani, Mehran
2022

Abstract

The placebo effect is a powerful psychobiological phenomenon whereby a positive outcome follows the administration of an inert treatment thought to be effective. Growing evidence shows that the placebo effect extends beyond the healing context, affecting also motor performance. Here we explored the placebo effect on the control of goal-directed movement, a fundamental function in many daily activities. Twenty-four healthy volunteers performed upper-limb movements toward a target at different indexes of difficulty in two conditions: in the placebo condition, an electrical device (inert) was applied to the right forearm together with verbal information about its positive effects in improving movement precision; in the control condition, the same device was applied along with verbal information about its neutral effects on performance. Interestingly, we found shorter movement time in the placebo compared to the control condition. Moreover, subjective perception of fatigability was reduced in the placebo compared to the control condition. These findings indicate that the placebo effect can improve the execution of goal-directed movements, thus adding new evidence to the placebo effect in the motor domain. This study could inspire future applications to improve upper-limb movements or in clinical settings for patients with motor deficits.
Humans
Movement
Upper Extremity
Forearm
Psychomotor Performance
Placebo Effect
Goals
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/1078891
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